The Eiffel Tower, the sophisticated French language, the lavishing fashion lifestyles and foods such as baguettes and French pastries. These are just some of the things that come to our mind when we think of Paris, a city and a region in France. Of course there are still many things to experience to discover Paris! Paris is one of the most popular tourist destination in the world. For instance, the Eiffel Tower alone is considered as the most visited global icon worldwide. The city itself is vibrant and has unique charms in different seasons of the year.
Since I first arrived in Europe in 2010, I visit the region and city of Paris almost every year. I went with different groups of people – friends, family from Philippines, husband, and my little kids. Depending on the people I was with, I created different memories of this place. Only recently in the summer of 2019, I visited Paris for one week with my husband and two kids. Since Paris is a busy city with tons of tourists coming from all over the world, traveling with young kids in this city can be quite a challenge. Therefore it is important to travel in your own pace in order to keep the travel relax for both parents and kids.
In this blog I’ll write some ways on how to discover Paris when you travel with kids and either with your friends or with your partner. It is notable that you can do less when you have kids. However, when you discover Paris in a relaxed pace while your kids enjoy, it is rewarding on its own. For adults, there are more diverse opportunities to enjoy, as I enumerated in the second part of my blog.
Discover Paris with small children
1. Visit Disneyland Paris.
One of the main reasons that parents with kids go to Paris is to experience the magic of Disneyland Paris. Everybody get to see (and to meet) their favourite Disney characters. Spending a day or few days in Disneyland Paris with your family is fun, though it is quite expensive to do so. In my blog about Disneyland Paris, I have written some tips and tricks on how to save when going to Disneyland Paris and on what to expect when spending time in Disneyland Parks.
2. Discover Paris city and suburb’s parks.
Aside from Disneyland Paris, there are many parks to explore and to enjoy around the city of Paris, which come for free. Simply being in the greenery in the heart of the city gives a relaxing experience. Some fun activities in the park for family include doing picnics, walking and getting lost in the maze or labyrinths, or simply laying down and reading your favourite books.
3. Visit Louvre museum early morning to avoid the crowd.
If kids are young enough to appreciate Louvre museum but parents don’t want to miss having a photo with the Louvre triangle, visiting in the early morning is a good opportunity to avoid the crowd. There are benches in the corners to sit and to enjoy the view of Louvre museum. If the kids are a little bit older and start to appreciate history, arts, and culture, touring the Louvre museum is a good exposure to them. The museum is free for students studying at European universities and who are no less than 26 years old.
4. Discover Paris’ hidden playground near the Eiffel Tower.
If you find this small playground in front of Eiffel Tower, then there is no need to join the crowd and to exert effort in taking photo of Eiffel Tower when your kids are with you. In this playground, parents can simply let the kids play and have fun while parents enjoy the view of Eiffel Tower. We have been to this playground beside Eiffel Tower twice and so far, it is less crowded, has benches under the tree, and has good spot for a full view of Eiffel Tower.
5. Enjoy the free play area for kids in the shopping malls.
When parents get tired of exploring the culture and history of Paris and want to avoid the crowd, they can spend a day in the shopping mall and let kids play in the play area. This is a good alternative especially in the summer when the heat of the sun is scorching under the skin. The largest shopping mall in Paris region can be found in Val D’Europe, a city in the outskirt of Paris city. Beside this shopping mall is the outlet centre for designer brands. Most of the shopping malls are cooled and have free play area for kids. By giving your kids the time to play during travels, they are less likely to feel homesick and to develop tantrums (at least in our experience).
Discover Paris with partner, friends, and adult children
Let’s admit it, it is very hard to fully discover Paris when you have kids compared to when you only travel with a partner and friends. The idea of not having a kid to take care makes it easy to go around the city, hop and hop off the buses, and visit the famous icons of Paris. Luckily, I did this for many times of my visit in Paris, together with my husband, friends, and family back home, before travelling to Paris with my little kids. It is nice to discover many famous icons in Paris, such as the landmarks featured in Dan Brown’s book and later on made into movie “Angels and Demons”. Below are some of the things to do when spending time in Paris with partners, friends, and adult children. It is possible to also do this with young kids, though it would be advisable to wait until they are a little bit older.
1. Climb the Eiffel Tower.
The Eiffel Tower is one of the famous and the most visited global icons in the world. It symbolizes Paris and perhaps family and friends will say that you have never been to Paris (and France) if you do not have a photo with it. There is an opportunity to climb the Eiffel Tower and dine in on its restaurants on the first and second levels. In the night, you can see the sparkling lights of Eiffel Tower which gives a feeling of vibrance and energy to Paris city itself. Aside from the Eiffel though, I would personally say that there are more structures, which can be of comparable beauty to Eiffel Tower, in the city of Paris.
2. Discover Paris’ paintings and arts at Louvre Museum.
The Louvre museum showcases many of the world’s fine arts, such as the painting of Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci and the sculpture of Venus de Milo, known as “Aphrodite”. For arts enthusiasts, spending a day in this museum seems not enough to see the museum’s collection. A two days tour of Louvre museum will enable art lovers to go in-depth on the classical and historical arts particularly during the renaissance period.
3. Visit Notre Dame Cathedral.
Ever heard of Quasimodo, the famous character from Victor Hugo’s story “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”? Yes, it is the same Notre Dame church that is mentioned in this book. Unfortunately, the tower of Notre Dame has been burnt by a big fire just recently in 2019 and the renovation could take more years before bringing this cathedral back to its old glory. Nevertheless, it is still worth it to see this famous Parisian icon.
4. Walk and climb the Basilica Sacre Coeur.
Located in Montmarte Paris, the Basilica Sacre Coeur stands in the highest point of Paris city on top of the mountain. Take the 130-meters climb towards Basilica Sacre Coeur. From there, you can see the astonishing view of Paris city from above.
5. Cruise the Seine River.
Walking around the 777km-long (483 miles) Seine River could be tiring and would take a long day without exactly knowing the landmarks surrounding it. Luckily, an alternative is to cruise the Seine River, which gives you a different perspective of Paris and makes you know its landmarks and history via guided tours. Also, cruising the Seine River with your loved one also gives a romantic feeling. Along the Seine River you will find many of the highlights of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, Louvre Museum, and Musee d’Orsay. The Seine River has played a role in the history of Paris because it was an important commercial route. On board the cruise, you can choose to have a dinner which makes a romantic and cozy dinner date for couples and even with friends!
6. Discover Parisian’s shops in Champs-de-Elysees.
The Champs-de-Elysees is one of the famous and well-known streets in the world. It housed famous theatres, luxury shops, and cafeterias and the famous Arc de Tromphe. The annual Bastille Day and the Tour de France cycle race is held in this avenue.
7. Discover and admire Paris historical monument Arc de Tromphe.
If anything rivals the Eiffel Tower as the symbol of Paris, it’s this magnificent 1836 monument to Napoléon’s victory at Austerlitz (1805) – the Arc de Tromphe. The intricately sculpted triumphal arch stands sentinel in the centre of the Étoile (Star) roundabout. From the viewing platform on top of the arch (50m up via 284 steps and well worth the climb) you can see the dozen avenues.
8. Relax and have picnic in Jardin de Luxembourg.
The beautiful Jardin de Luxembourg, also known as the Luxembourg Garden is constructed at the time of Marie de’ Medici, the widow and second wife of Henry IV from the Bourbon dynasty. The Medici family is an aristocrat family that originated from Italy and were known for their wealth and power over Europe. The Luxembourg Palace is also located in Jardin de Luxembourg. A tour of this beautiful garden is for free to the public, while the palace opens free to the public only once in a year during the 3rd week of September. Currently, the palace is used as a home of the French Senate.
9. Visit the Pantheon Paris.
The Pantheon (meaning “temple to all Gods”) in Paris is a facade inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. This Pantheon in Paris was built originally to become the temple of great man and prominent figures in France. For instance, the ashes and remains of famous French philosophers and writers, such as Voltaire, Jean Jacques-Rosseau, Victor Hugo, and Alexander Dumas among others, could be found in the Pantheon.
10. Discover Paris’ Chateau de Versailles in a day.
The magnificent Chateau de Versailles in the countryside of Paris was once a royal residence starting from the reign of Louis XIV in 1682 up to the period of French Revolution in 1789 under the rule of Louis XVI. The palace and its magnificent garden stretching into hectares of land reminds us of the lavishing lifestyles of the French royalties in the past. Due to this lifestyle, France got into serious debt and financial crisis and the poor became poorer. This caused outrage among peasants that they wanted to replace the monarchy style of government. As a result, the French Revolution came in and the wife of Louis XVI, Marie Antonette, was charged of high treason and was executed by guillotine or beheading.